A few years ago I read an article by Oliver Burkeman about decision making. The article asks the question whether it is better to use your instinct or your logic when it comes to making decisions.
It caught my interest, as this is an area I often struggle with. My problem is that I don’t trust my instinct enough, probably due to the fact that I was brought up with the idea that if something isn’t logical or there is no concrete evidence to support something then it shouldn’t be believed or pursued. Rash decisions also generally carry a negative connotation, as something that has to be avoided, which can sometimes be true.
The article mentions something which I found very interesting and after thinking about it, it resonated with me even more. It advises that when it comes to small decisions, such as what type of running shoes should you buy, then it works if you think about things logically and weigh up the pros and cons.
However, when it comes to big decisions, such as changing career or choosing a partner, that is where we should trust our gut instinct more the logic. This is because big situations are often too complex to analyse anyway and if we over think something too much we are more likely to confuse ourselves even more. For example doctors are more likely to make a wrong diagnosis, if they have too much information about a patient’s symptoms, because the extra information confuses them.
Instinctive judgements are also not completely devoid of reason, as our sub consciousnes
processes information that informs our instinctive decisions without us even realising it. However instinctive decisions can also be affected negatively by our unconscious prejudices and stereotypes. This happened when for example the police
killed an innocent man on his doorstep, because their image of him fit their unconscious stereotype of what a criminal looks like.
From personal experience, I realised that I get more satisfaction by using my gut to make even the smallest of decisions. For example, when I went to buy shoes a while ago for working out, I ended up buying the ones that were the most functional for the type of workout I usually do. However, there were some other ones which looked better and I felt like I wanted them much more. In the end I bought the more functional ones, but I keep thinking I wish I had bought the ones I really wanted. And I have lots more examples of this type.
I also believe in that having a certain positive feeling about something, seeing a sign, having a certain experience, or having a life changing idea which makes you choose a certain path over another or change your current path can come from God or a higher power or the universe, whatever you want to call it.
I am also aware that my intuition sometimes steers me in the wrong direction, especially when it comes to buying things and spending money. As subconsciously I seem to have this idea that what is more expensive must be better. Although logically I know this is certainly not always the case, but I have no doubt that this view had lead me to buy many ‘instinctive’ purchases. I only regret them though if I don’t make enough use of them, if I do make use of them I tell myself that my instinct was correct again J
I hope you found this interesting, as I was certainly inspired by Burkeman’s article and it has made decision making much clearer to me in some ways, and has helped me to trust my instincts more than I used to.
Happy decision making about whatever you are deciding about right now….